School is the place that can cater to the children with special needs. Early age nourishment can give them the confidence for a better life
By Pragya Gupta, Elets News Network (ENN)
Inclusive education is the way to address the inequalities that the country is struggling with. Differently-abled children do not receive equal treatment, and are restrained from quality education, which can ensure a good future for them.
Such children must be given equal access to quality education and lifelong learning so that they can participate in the society not as differently-abled, but like all the others. The children must be supported from the childhood so that their life can be improved.
Every child is unique and has his own strength and weakness. There is a need to unveil those strengths and develop them. The timely identification of children at risk of dyslexia or autism, etc, is important to ensure better support for them.
Exploring individual strengths
All children, with their individual strengths and weaknesses, have the right to education. Therefore, it is a country’s school system that must be adjusted to meet the needs of all the children.
“Every child is blessed with something special. We try to cater to the needs of all the students through our special educators who teach the children and make them perform activities that suit their caliber. We believe in all the skills because intelligence does not mean that the child is good in mathematics or chess, but we consider it as a gift of god,” said Shyam Agrawal, Principal, Billabong High International School, Indore.
“In our school, there is an inclusive policy through which admissions are given on first-come, first-serve basis. Our aim is to nurture the skills: reading, writing or head-hand skills, of the differentlyabled. Skills produce performance and performance results in self-esteem and competence. The school converts each skill to a life skill to promote psycho-social competence,” he adds.
Teachers are the ones who closely relate with children in a classroom. Teacher training programmes are essential to keep the teachers updated and knowledgeable.
“We do not have many differentlyabled children in our school. However, we work in the identification and support of children with minor learning difficulties like dyslexia and HDAD. Almost all our teachers have attended workshops and talks on learning disabilities and how to work with children with special learning needs,” said Jyotsna Brar, Principal, Welham Girls’ School, Dehradun.
On the initiatives taken by the school, she said, “We assist children with special
difficulties in a different way. We occasionally organise and host the Special Olympics for the state and our senior students and teachers work with challenged and street children at the Cheshire Homes every week. A professed aim of the school is to sensitise every member of our school community towards people with different needs through direct contact during their years in school.”
Identification at Early Age
Dyslexia is one of the most common learning disabilities that may impact nearly 10 percent of all school-going children.
Pearson Clinical & Talent Assessment, a division of Pearson, helps empower school teachers to identify children at risk of dyslexia. Due to shortage of trained psychologists and special educators in the Indian school system, children struggling with dyslexia often slip through the cracks and end up with poor academic and professional outcomes. Pearson will also shortly introduce a remediation for children with dyslexia, Launch into Reading Success, a phonological awareness training programme, that will benefit all Indian children who need to develop better phonological skills, and specifically children with dyslexia, who struggle with phonological challenges as part of their learning disability,” shared Prashant Banerjee, marketing head of the division.
Different students have different needs to remain engaged in learning. Today, with ICT and other tools, schools are focusing on engaged and interactive learning. Similarly, it is important to develop techniques that can keep students engaged in their own ways.
Shanthi Menon, Principal, Deens Academy, Bengaluru, “At Deens Academy, we believe in giving equal opportunity to all students. We, therefore, have a Special Education Wing that caters to the differently-abled students, while they are integrated into classrooms for activities other than core subjects. Differentiated daily tasks are created within curriculums to cater to these children and opportunities for open schooling are offered to those in need.”
The school also has the mentoring system in which a mentor is provided to a student with special needs. “We practice a mentoring system in the school. Differently-abled children have a mentor who looks after all the academic problems of the children. In addition to this, we provide special sessions from experts exclusively for them,” informs Menon.